MANILA – Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez on Wednesday disputed Sen. Imee Marcos' claim that the Masagana 99 program during the Marcos presidency in the 1970s was an "effective use of commercial and rural banks," saying the policy left around 800 banks "bankrupted."
The exchange began when Marcos, daughter of the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., asked the the Finance chief about the government loans for indigent families during the coronavirus crisis.
"The Masagana 99 in the 70s was a very effective use of commercial banks, rural banks and even cooperative banks. Perhaps we could consider enlarging national government stake [in banks]," the senator said in a Senate hybrid hearing.
The Masagana 99 was a Marcos program designed to increase rice production in the country by giving farmers high-yielding rice varieties through loans. The policy was discontinued as it left farmers in deeper debts.
"I was the Secretary of Agriculture who cleaned up the mess that was left by Masagana 99. There were about 800 rural banks that were bankrupted by that program and we had to rescue them," Dominguez told Marcos.
"Whether it was a total success or not, it has to be measured against that," said Dominguez, who served as President Corazon Aquino's Agriculture chief from 1987 to 1989.
Marcos told Dominguez: "The success po perhaps was not in banking but the success was in rice exportation."
But the Finance chief also disputed this claim saying, "We never exported rice [at that time], ma'am."
In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted to "copy" Marcos' Masagana 99 program, but then-Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol clarified that the president only wanted to increase the Philippines' rice production, and not mimic the entire Masagana 99 policy.